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Stating his case

LATROBE _ The picture has changed perceptibly if not permanently at inside linebacker.

When OTAs began, Tyler Matakevich was getting the first look with the first-team defense next to Vince Williams.

But ever since the Steelers resumed practicing on Wednesday following an off day on Tuesday at Saint Vincent College, Jon Bostic has opened 11-on-11 drills lining up next to Williams.

That rotation was on display again this afternoon.

It was Williams and Bostic at the outset of "Seven Shots," Williams and Bostic for the start of "Third Down," Williams and Bostic at the beginning of every 11-on-11 period throughout.

That's the way it's been for the majority of this week.

But that doesn't necessarily mean that's the way it's going to be.

"I gotta keep it that way," Bostic said. "My job is to go out there and keep making plays when my number is called upon. Keep going out there making plays, leading by example, talking out there on the field."

Matakevich was listed with the first team next to Williams on the depth chart the Steelers released today, the first of the 2018 season.

Any such designations shouldn't be considered etched in stone at this early juncture.

"We're both getting our reps," Matakevich said. "But then again, we haven't played any preseason games. We just have to keep doing what we're doing. Keep learning this defense, don't make the same mistake twice and really just get ready to play."

Matakevich, a third-year pro, didn't start a game in his first two seasons with the Steelers.

Bostic made a combined 32 starts over five seasons for the Bears, Patriots and Colts, including 14 last season in Indianapolis, before signing with the Steelers as a free agent.

This much has been established: Bostic showed up as advertised in terms of his ability to communicate.

"That's one thing the coaches have said, they've definitely seen that," Bostic reported. "Other players have come up to me, as well, and have said, 'Man, it's so much easier when you're out there. You're always telling me what to do. I don't have to think. I can play fast.'"

TWO-MINUTE MAGIC: The scenario was this: The offense had to drive 52 yards for a touchdown in 1:43 with one timeout.

Mission accomplished for quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and the first-team offense.

Roethlisberger went 5-for-7 on the march (both incompletions were throwaways), which finished with a 4-yard fade to wide receiver James Washington over cornerback Jamar Summers (who was in Joe Haden's usual spot).

Wide receiver Tevin Jones had three receptions for 39 yards, including a 21-yard gain to the 4-yard line on which Jones may or may not have prevented the ball from hitting the ground before he secured it as he went to the ground. Nickel cornerback Mike Hilton was convinced the pass had been incomplete. Head coach Mike Tomlin has been known to make calls that facilitate what he wants from the drill in such situations.

Washington had previously beaten Summers for a score on a fade from Roethlisberger in "7-on-7."

Quarterback Joshua Dobbs' two-minute drive reached the 13 but stalled there.

Quarterback Mason Rudolph got his group into the end zone via a 14-yard catch-and-run touchdown to running back Jaylen Samuels on a crossing route. Rudolph went 5-for-6 for 46 yards and also contributed a 6-yard scramble.

SEVEN UP: Free safety Sean Davis and strong safety Morgan Burnett got their first crack at the seven-defensive backs alignment the Steelers have been working on (they were joined by cornerbacks Artie Burns, Summers and Hilton and safeties Terrell Edmunds and Cameron Sutton).

MEDICAL FILE: Wide receiver Marcus Tucker (ankle), Haden (undisclosed), cornerback Coty Sensabaugh (back), cornerback Brian Allen (undisclosed), outside linebacker Bud Dupree (concussion protocol), offensive tackle Chukwuma Okorafor (shoulder), wide receiver Antonio Brown (quad), tight end Vance McDonald (foot) and outside linebacker T.J. Watt (hamstring) were among those who didn't practice.

Roethlisberger, fullback Roosevelt Nix, center Maurkice Pouncey, wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey, defensive end L.T. Walton and defensive end Cameron Heyward returned to practice.

Heyward-Bey and wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster didn't finish practice.

Tomlin confirmed Dupree suffered a concussion on Friday night and characterized the rest of the injuries as "camp-related type of things."

UNIFORM OF THE DAY: The Steelers practiced in shells rather than shoulder pads for the first time since putting the shoulder pads on for the first time last Saturday.

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